Before Mphatso Chiphwanya came to her first Special Olympics event at age 10, she didn’t think sport was for her.
That soon changed, and she became an active participant in Special Olympics Malawi. Over time, watching Venus and Serena Williams on television sparked a passion in Mphatso for tennis and she wanted to try it herself.
When she first came to the courts for training, Mphatso faced discrimination and harassment. The other young people in her community had never interacted with a person with intellectual disabilities before, on the tennis court or otherwise. They didn’t yet understand how to interact with someone just a little bit different from themselves.
From tennis partners, to true friends
But Bridget Kaunda, a fellow tennis player training at the courts from Chilobwe Township, Blantyre, saw in Mphatso someone who deserved to be treated equally to everyone else. She was not happy to see how others her age mistreated her, and decided she would stand up and face anyone who treated Mphatso unkindly.
At first, Mphatso would not train with anyone else except her friend Bridget. But with time, the discrimination she had faced fell away when others saw Bridget’s acceptance and friendship with Mphatso. She started to play with any other partner, even when Bridget wasn’t there.
Mphatso Chiphwanya: Special Olmpics star tennis player — The Nation Online
Her friends and tennis playmates call her Genuine for her good English, but her birth name is Mphatso Chiphwanya. She…
Mphatso went on to win three medals representing Special Olympics Malawi at the 2015 Los Angeles World Games. She has a gold medal playing Unified Sports doubles, a bronze medal she won as a single player and another gold which Mphatso received as the only African tennis athlete at the Games.
Today, Mphatso has just written her secondary school leaving certificate and she wants to go to college. She still spends most of her free time playing tennis, and dreams of becoming a famous tennis player in Malawi and perhaps one day, around the world.
2018 World Tennis Invitational in Santo Domingo
The next stop for Mphatso and Bridget is the first Special Olympics World Tennis Invitational in Santo Domingo! The tag line of this event is to Stand Up for Inclusion.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary, the Special Olympics World Tennis Invitational will be a unifying world class tennis tournament driven by youth leadership and focused on sustainable high quality sports development.
The Dominican Republic will host the World Tennis Invitational Tournament and the Special Olympics Global Athletes Congress, to be held in Santo Domingo from 9–17 November, 2018 with the participation of 220 athletes, 100 coaches, 500 families, and 50 judges and officials, from 30 countries around the world!
The Office of the First Lady of Dominican Republic is committed to being the host institution in the country together with the Ministry of Sports and providing all its support in the organization, logistics and operation of these activities.
With the celebration of these events, the Dominican Republic consolidates its commitment to the promotion of societies with greater inclusion, respect and dignified treatment of people with different abilities. Part of these actions are motorized through the Center for Integral Attention for Disability (CAID), based in Santo Domingo West, Santiago and San Juan, in correspondence with the inclusion policies of the government of President Danilo Medina.
In addition to the World Tennis Invitational and the Global Athletes Congress, the country will host the Special Olympics International Board of Directors Annual Meeting. The three events are part of the commemorative activities of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Special Olympics, a Movement that was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968.